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UK SMEs are Unaware of UN Sustainability Goals

07 November 2022 | Updated 08 November 2022

New YouGov research commissioned by business improvement and standards company, BSI has revealed the lack of awareness of the UN Sustainable Development Goals by UK businesses.

Only 18 per cent of UK SMEs said they were aware of the goals, despite making up 99 per cent of all UK organisations. Over half (54 per cent) of larger organisations (250+ employees) were unaware.


1/5 Decision Makers Know What Business Net-Zero Targets Mean in Practice


The outputs question the resilience of UK businesses and follow earlier research from BSI that revealed only a fifth of decision-makers are fully aware of what carbon net-zero targets mean in practice for their organisation.

Murray Sayce, Global Head of Sustainability Solutions for BSI’s Assurance business says, “It is imperative that businesses of every nature and size understand the importance of sustainability in their operating model if they are going to survive into the future. This data, which also shows that almost 40 per cent of organisations have no established sustainability goals, indicates a massive knowledge and implementation gap that needs to be filled.

“We know that most businesses want to do the right thing, indeed 72 per cent consider it important to work with sustainable supply chains and 47 per cent actively work with independently verified sustainable suppliers. But they need more guidance on how to set sustainability-related targets and how to achieve them.”

To help with this, BSI has launched a sustainability evaluator tool to assist organisations in assessing and evaluating progress on their sustainability journeys. The tool, which was developed by BSI and can be accessed for free, provides helpful insight about how organisations can make progress towards their sustainability goals.

Further data from BSI’s research showed that Hospitality and Leisure, Education and Media/Comms/Sales were the lowest-scoring industries in terms of awareness of the UN SDGs, with Manufacturing, Medical and Health Services and IT and Telecoms scoring highest. Start-up businesses have more awareness than comparable established businesses, and younger workforces enjoy more awareness than their older counterparts.

Sustainability and assurance experts at BSI will be hosting a series of webinars throughout the year to support organisations working towards the SDG goals on the following topics:

  • Carbon Neutrality
  • Health Safety and Wellbeing
  • Waste Management
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Sustainable Events
  • Sustainable Infrastructure

For more information on BSI’s sustainability evaluator tool and upcoming related webinars visit


Visit BSI at EMEX 2022 – Stand E40


BSI is the business standards company that helps organisations all over the world make excellence a habit. For more than a century they have been challenging mediocrity and complacency to help embed excellence into the way people and products work.

That means showing businesses how to improve performance, reduce risk and achieve sustainable growth.

As a global leader in helping organisations improve, their clients range from high-profile brands to small, local companies in 182 countries worldwide.

Click here to register for your free ticket for EMEX 2022.

Picture: a photograph of three people at meeting table looking over some paperwork. Image Credit: Pixabay

Article written by BSI | Published 07 November 2022


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